Finding local resources when your child has LD or AD/HD
Follow these practical steps to define your child's needs and find help for him close to home.
By Lisa Kay , Robbie Fanning, M.A. , Darla Hatton
The first steps to take when you notice your child is struggling to learn are prereferral, assessment, or diagnosis (see A Guide to Finding Local Resources When Your Child Struggles to Learn). Once the reason for your child's learning problem has been identified, you'll know more precisely what he needs in order to learn. Where do you look and how do you begin this search? This article will help guide you through the four steps to discovering local resources:
1. Summarizing your child's needs
Whatever type of specialist you're seeking for your child, you can turn to a variety of resources (people, organizations, and directories) for contact information. If you're not sure what type of specialist your child needs, review Specialists in the Learning Disabilities Field. Ask your child's teacher or IEP team what outside specialists they recommend to supplement the special services your child is getting in school.
Before you start calling people, make a list summarizing your child's situation. This will help you describe your child's needs in a succinct way. List these facts:
- Child's name
- Grade in school
- Name and type of school (public or private)
- Identification/diagnosis: For example, "He has an auditory processing disorder."
- Observations (yours or the teacher's): For example, "My son can't remember what he has heard after the teacher gives instructions."
- Type of specialist needed (e.g., tutor, advocate); be as specific as possible.
It may also be helpful to set up a resource notebook to organize all the information you will be gathering.
2. Contacting national sources for local referrals
Some national organizations have systems in place to help you search for state or local referrals. The referrals are free, but the professionals to whom you are referred usually charge for their services. Some services, however, are free or low-cost, indicated in the list below by an asterisk (*).
Check with these national organizations for:
Educational therapists and tutors
- Association of Educational Therapists provides online referrals to educational therapists who tutor children with learning disabilities.
- * Scottish Rite Clinics, Centers, and Programs for Childhood Language Disorders offer both assessment and tutoring services through 150 locations in the United States.
- National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions can refer you to any local teaching hospitals that offer learning clinics.
- * After-school programs can often refer you to local tutors.
- State Department of Education - Special Education Department: Ask for a list of private agencies that offer tutoring services.
- Wrightslaw Yellow Pages for Kids
- Related article: Questions to Ask Tutors
Speech, language, and hearing therapists
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is a national association that can refer you to therapists in your area.
- Related article: Questions to ask Speech & Lanuguage Specialists
Ask your medical insurance company for a list of local providers covered by your policy. If you're looking for a specialist, find out if a referral from your child's pediatrician is required for insurance purposes.
- American Medical Association is a national association that can help you locate pediatricians, behavioral pediatricians, and other medical professionals in your area.
- U.S. Army Medical Command Military families can obtain medical assistance for Special Education students living overseas.
- Related article: Questions to Ask Professionals who Assess or Treat AD/HD
- Neighborhood Legal Services: Legal Services Corporation funds 179 low-cost legal aid programs in the United States.
- Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution (CADRE) provides a national database of Special Education Dispute Resolution Professionals.
- Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) is an independent, nonprofit organization founded to improve the quality and quantity of legal assistance to parents of children with disabilities.
- Families and Advocates Partnership for Education (FAPE) provides referrals to national, state, and local disability organizations and advocates and to a nationwide network of parent training and information centers and community parent resource centers.
- Related article: Questions to Ask Attorneys or Advocates
The following national resources may have information about parent-training programs in your area.
- Parent Information and Resource Centers
- National Parent Teacher Association
- Children and Adults with AD/HD (CHADD)
- Alliance Parent Centers
- National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, formerly NICHCY
- United Way for referrals to social services.
- The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) provides trasitioning information for military families.